I’ve always seen my mother as a superhero (and still do). It’s been tough watching her struggling with keeping up with the grandkids, drifting off mid-sentence, and getting sick more often. As tough as watching the aging process has been for me, it’s been even more difficult for my anxious mother to endure.
As she gets older, my mother has developed an anxiety disorder. She’s worried about embarrassing herself in public and has started to show signs of withdrawing from loved ones. Here’s how I’m handling my over anxious mother with empathy and helping her create meaningful memories in her later years.
Why I Must Learn How to Support My Anxious Mother
Watching the slow metamorphosis of my mother from Wonder Woman to mere mortal has been heartbreaking for me. It challenges the very foundation of everything I know. My mom is supposed to be invincible, and yet she’s showing the debilitating symptoms of aging.
Whenever we are faced with cold-hard facts that challenge our usual way of thinking, we tend to lash out.
You find out your favorite celebrity is a bad person; you lash out in their defense. Someone challenges your political stance, and you go into insta-debate mode.
When your mom starts to need more assistance, it can be frustrating for her children. As they say, “anxious mother, anxious child.”
Merely challenging my mom’s immortality put me into defense mode and caused me to snap at her. I’d think, “she’s stronger than this!”
I’ve learned that aging isn’t her fault. I shouldn’t project my anxiety about her aging onto her.
She’s doing enough of that on her own. That’s why I learned how to deal with my anxious mother. You should, too. The first step is empathy.
How My Mom Became Anxious
There is nothing scarier than facing your own mortality. It slowly begins with not being able to do little things you used to. Perhaps jogs leave your knees aching, your keys keep moving to a different location, or your balance gets slightly off.
At first, mothers can adapt to these changes. They’ll use step stools to reach the top shelf as their spine shrinks. Aging mothers will start writing important memories down so they won’t forget them.
Eventually, these life hacks become daily routines. Setting up the step stool takes minutes instead of seconds. Their hands might develop arthritis, making notes harder and harder to decipher.
The more my mother has to evolve her lifestyle, the more jaded she becomes. As emotional as it’s been to see her losing a step, it’s been worse seeing her lose her spirit. So, we’ve done a few things to get it back!
How to Deal with an Aging Mom with Anxiety Disorder
My mother worked hard to ensure that I have happy childhood memories. So, I want to make sure she has the same throughout her twilight years.
I’ve anticipated some of the reasons she’s developed an anxious mother syndrome. With these realizations, I’ve come up with a few tips for how to deal with your anxious mother.
Bring the Fun to Her
Research shows that aging parents need social engagement to help fight mental health disorders.
The first sign that I had a newfound anxious mother on my hands was that she was turning down social invites. It first started with cousins’ birthdays. She was feeling “tired” and “hadn’t been sleeping.”
Of course, the concern of get-togethers increased with coronavirus anxiety. We started the pandemic out with drive-bys and even sang her favorite dance song “Uptown Funk” over a megaphone on her 75th birthday!
Now, we’ve slowly started doing small gatherings again. We’ve hosted a social distancing get-together at my mom’s.
Going forward, we’re going to continue bringing the fun to her. Hopefully, it’ll cheer her up enough to get her out of the same environment more often!
Take Her Out in Nature
My mom’s social anxiety disorder somewhat extends to the outdoors. She believes she can no longer do outdoor exercise. However, that doesn’t mean the outdoors needs to make her anxious.
People who suffer from anxiety tend to have a lack of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a critical nutrient that is pivotal to many neurological functions. The sun is the most significant source of this essential vitamin.
While my mom can’t do a full-on hike, we did find a walking trail. She stopped and watched birds, laughing at them chasing each other around the greenery.
We’ve also made a few beach trips with the kids. My anxious mother takes joy in watching the grandkids build sandcastles and bury their dad. I suggest surrounding your mom with some sun and loved ones, too!
Teach Relaxation Techniques
Gotta love mom, but she’s a creature of habit. She’s not going to Google dealing with anxiety as a mom. So, you’ve got to teach her a few ways to relax.
I did the first couple of chair yoga videos with my mom because I wanted to keep an eye on her. Plus, I wanted her to see that I can do it, too. The other day, I FaceTimed her, and she was doing it on her own!
My mom also learned how to do deep-breathing techniques. She’s a huge fan of the 4-7-8 protocol.
When she’s feeling insecure and a panic attack arising in public, she inhales for four seconds. My anxious mother then holds for seven and exhales for eight. She does this at least three times before continuing about her day.
Record Their Calls
I’ve noticed notepads strategically placed around my mother’s place and her calendar is more filled out than ever before with birthdays and anniversaries. Thankfully, her arthritis still allows her to write legibly.
However, there will be a day where her penmanship might become an issue. Unfortunately, this progressive disorder will coincide with an increasing need to write things down for memory purposes.
I plan on using an app to record phone conversations that go over important daily or weekly details. That way, I can play these discussions with my mother whenever she needs a refresher. If you plan on using one of these apps, make sure to look up local voice recording laws.
My anxious mother has always been wary of medications. While some of the ones she takes are necessary, she has lived a pretty healthy life so far. My mom credits that to all-natural supplements.
So, when I suggested she try Tranquility Lab’s Tranquilene, she was very open to it.
My anxious mother felt good about taking Tranquilene because it contains all-natural ingredients. It’s formulated with amino acids, such as L-Theanine and Tryptophan.
These building blocks of life are the precursors to GABA and serotonin, respectively. Both of these brain chemicals are responsible for calming the central nervous system, promoting focus, and improving mood.
The formula is further enhanced by botanicals known to help reduce stress. These stress-busting ingredients include Brahmi, ashwagandha, and passionflower.
Within a couple of days, my anxious mother noted that her mind was wandering less when she was reading the paper. She also noted that getting out of bed seemed like less of a process. In fact, my mom even had her first outdoor dinner at a restaurant last week!
How to Help an Angry Anxious Insecure Mother
My mom was getting unbearable for a moment there. In turn, I was getting snappy myself. That’s why I had to destroy that whole “anxious mother anxious child” theory.
The key to dealing with an anxious mother is empathy. You have to put yourself in her slip-ons and imagine what she’s going through. Anticipate her struggles and come up with some solutions.
I showed my mom a few ways to handle anxiety. She took the opportunity and ran with it. Just little tweaks to her routine, and she’s regaining her autonomy. Your anxious mother can, too!
- You must empathize with your anxious mother to help her through this tough time.
- Don’t get frustrated with your anxious mother, have empathy.
- Bring the fun to your mom and take her outside.
- Record calls and introduce her to all-natural anxiety supplements.